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September 22, 2007

Gen Zia-ud-Din spills the beans

 
September 22, 2007

LAHORE: Gen Zia-ud-Din (retd) after keeping mum for about eight years has uttered that he had remained in 660-day solitary confinement after Army takeover in 1999.

In an interview published in the new edition of ‘Who is traitor: Nawaz Sharif’s Story in His Own Words’ by Journalist Sohail Warraich, he said he was perhaps released after Gen Mehmood and Gen Aziz refused to record statements against him. It was for this reason, he added, the inquiry against him was left incomplete.

When said he could not control the situation after assuming the charge of Army chief as senior generals did not listen to him, he said it was not right as he was fully in contact with the Army. On the one hand, he said, the 111 Brigade was launching coup while on the other preparations were under way for a guard of honour for him. Zia, however, admitted that they had not done the proper homework because the decision to replace Musharraf with him was hasty.

He said the then Karachi corps commander Gen Usmani had accepted the order of Gen Musharraf’s removal. He claimed that he had also talked to all the corps commanders and that they had accepted him as Army chief.

Gen Zia said the office of the Army chief in Pakistan was very strong, which was reminiscent of British colonial period. As long as the basic structure of the Army was not changed drastically, he said, Army coups would continue.

He viewed that two generals should be appointed against the posts of Army chief of staff and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, and a single general should not be vested with the two offices. Initially, he said, Musharraf was agreed on making him chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee but later he changed his mind.

Gen Zia said he had no feud with Gen Musharraf, but it’s just possible Gen Musharraf had professional jealously against him as PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto once declared his briefing better than that of Musharraf.

He

denied that he had never commanded a corps, saying his career was better than those of all generals of his time. He also denied that he had hatched any conspiracy against Musharraf for his removal as the Army chief, saying he returned to Pakistan on Oct 3, 1999 after a three-week foreign tour and on Oct 9, 1999 he sought retirement from Army in a talk with the then prime minister.

Gen Zia said the then premier had discussed with him the change of Army command two days before the Musharraf’s takeover.

He complained that the word “Butt” had wrongly been affixed to his name though he had never made it a part of his name. He said he used the surname of “Khawaja”. He said he had not been granted any pension, and was making his living through construction business.